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Strategies for Creating Business Resilience

Strategies for Creating Business Resilience

Feb. 19, 2021
Some tips on how to be prepared for unpredictable supply chain disruptions.

In order to survive in an unpredictable supply chain environment, businesses need to be incredibly resilient. While it is impossible to predict the future, there are many steps that businesses can take to prepare for it. Companies need to be prepared for the abundant, unpredictable variables in supply chains, such as natural disasters, cyber-attacks, labor shortages, and, as we have seen over the past year, global pandemics and foundational changes in the way consumers purchase products.

We have compiled some key best practices to help companies create business resilience from within. Implementing these practices will best position your business to mitigate the supply chain variables that may arise. 

1. Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario

No one can predict the future, but everyone can plan for it. Companies that have already considered possible future disruptors, created plans for the worst-case scenarios and created contingencies around those plans will be better-equipped to adapt and respond quickly and effectively, fostering a much more resilient business. 

2. Leverage Integrated Systems and Technology

Eliminating siloes within your business is a critical component to creating business resilience. Having disparate systems will stand in the way of creating synergy and collaboration, which is critical to resilience. Integrating the systems and technology within your business bridges gaps you may not even know you have, allowing teams and departments to stay connected and react more efficiently to potential challenges. 

3. Improve Inventory Visibility and Flexibility

Inventory is a large source of capital within a business but can often be mismanaged, decreasing resilience. Companies can often tie up most of their working capital in inventory by not knowing how to properly optimize and manage it. In order to remain resilient against future disruption, businesses should have consistent, real-time visibility into where inventory is located and how it can be redeployed, as well as the confidence that it can easily be adjusted depending on market conditions. 

4. Establish Robust Forecasting and Planning Processes

When a major disruptor hits, supply and demand patterns can often be the first critical processes to be disrupted. Companies that frequently deal with disruptors, such as unstable weather conditions, are more often prepared for impacts to supply and demand and have contingencies in place. However, companies that reside in more consistent and stable networks are more likely to be unprepared when disruptors occur, because they have not created a plan for those conditions. Companies significantly increase their resilience when they enable quick adjustments to supply and demand patterns such as inventory allocation and fulfillment strategies. 

5. Establish Flexible Manufacturing Processes

Having flexibility in manufacturing processes is vital to responding quickly to changes in demand. Whether a company is using lean or another system for process improvement, manufacturing should be flexible to fluctuating demand. 

6. Reduce Lead and Cycle Times for Fulfillment and Replenishment

Top executives all agree that longer delivery times and lack of business resilience are strongly correlated. If your business is unable to provide its customers with the products and services that they want, when and where they want them, customers will look elsewhere. Reducing cycle times is key to enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty during periods of disruption.

7. Drive Continuous Improvement and Innovation

The companies excelling during these disruptive times are consistently creating and innovating. Finding new and inventive ways to meet customers’ needs is what will keep your reputation fresh and positive in the market. Driving innovation should start at the leadership level and be ingrained in your company’s DNA.

Next Steps

Supply chains are always going to face curve balls—that much is inevitable. It is how you prepare your business for those curve balls that will ultimately determine success versus failure. While, altogether, the above seven keys to success can seem daunting, taken one at a time, they can create lasting, positive change in the supply chain.

In moving forward, rather than attempting to implement them all at once, prioritize the strategies that will create the most value for your business and solve for your most critical business challenges. Implement the above seven strategies to maintain customer satisfaction and profitability, even among disruption.

Gene Bornac is chief strategy officer at enVista, a software, consulting and managed services provider. He has more than 32 years of experience in the retail and consumer products industries.